Many people believe that they must be happy all the time. All their material needs are taken care of, so they should be happy.
Of course, that’s not how life works. While the physical dimension is important, there is an emotional and spiritual one.
And that’s where grief comes in. It sprouts whenever you lose someone (or something) truly valuable to you. Usually, it’s a person. But grief could also sprout after losing a job/career, dream, or home.
In this post, let’s look at some signs you are grieving and what they mean.
While grief is an emotional process, it can lead to physical symptoms, particularly digestive discomfort. When you feel stressed, it changes your body’s biochemistry. This process then affects your organs, particularly your gut, which is directly linked to the brain: many people going through grief experience bloating, cramps, gas, diarrhea, and many other symptoms.
A Sense Of Numbness
When something really bad happens, it can come with a sense of numbness. Essentially, your brain shuts down, preventing you from experiencing unpleasant emotions.
Of course, numbness is often only the first step. Over time, your mind will start to adjust to the new circumstances, and you will come to accept them fully.
Preoccupation With Loss
Funeral or memorial services, cremation urns, and grave markers are an aspect of the death of a loved one that the family left behind needs to address in honoring their loved one. But becoming preoccupied with grief in the years that follow the death of a loved one is a hurdle that so many people with, and sometimes for many, many years.
Even in the early months after a loss, it is a helpful approach to process your grief externally with the support of others.
Inability To Experience Pleasure
When you experience grief, it can be challenging to feel or experience pleasure in a normal way. Things you loved in the past no longer feel good to you.
Psychiatrists call this condition anhedonia, which means “an inability to experience a pleasure.”
See a specialist if you can’t enjoy the usual things in your life, such as food or exercise. They can help you process the emotions that are blocking your positive experiences.
Grief often comes with bitterness or the sense that the universe isn’t playing fair.
The problem with bitterness is that it eats away at gratitude. Being angry and hostile to the world around you moves you farther away from joy and well-being.
Constantly thinking about your loss and the emotional rollercoaster that comes with it can cause headaches, too. Too often, following a devastating loss, self-care often takes a backseat. As a result, eating and drinking patterns may change, and self-care behaviors are no longer a priority. Therefore, physical symptoms, such as headaches or migraines, may become an issue.
Anger And Rage
Lastly, people who experience grief are at a much higher risk of anger and rage. Many people who experience the death of a loved one, whether it was a loving relationship or not, may ask, “Why?”
These types of emotions are perfectly natural. You may find yourself feeling irritated at the slightest things, many of which would never have affected you before.
Symptoms like those shared in this post can last for several months. What is important for all grievers to know is that these are normal and natural responses. And it’s also normal and natural for grievers to experience symptoms like these for months. All grievers can ask themselves if these symptoms are prolonged due to avoiding feeling the depth of the emotions that grief entails. Because so often, we will fall into the trap of avoidance behaviors in an attempt to not fully experience one’s emotions. These behaviors often only add shame and guilt to the emotional mix.
To move forward after a loss, it’s important to take an inventory of what is emotionally incomplete, then take action to address those emotions in a supported way. If you are grieving and are ready to take that inventory, I can support you through the process of an evidence-based framework in a guided and supported way through myone-on-one or group programs.
In this article, we will discuss survivor’s guilt, what it is, and potential treatments that can help those experiencing it.
Though survivor’s guilt has always existed in some form, the term itself was used to describe the feelings of those who had survived the holocaust during World War Two. It refers to the complex range of emotions experienced by people who have survived a severe accident, attack, natural disaster, or illness where others have died. It is often found among armed forces veterans who have served on active duty.
Those with survivor’s guilt cannot explain why they have survived while others haven’t. They might not feel worthy or despair at the situation’s unfairness. If you’ve been in an accident or an attack where a loved one has died, the condition can feel even more intense as you may feel as though you should have died instead of them.
Rather than being a disorder, survivor’s guilt may be categorized as a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but these are not mutually exclusive. PTSD is often treated with talking therapies, EMDR, and self EMDR in addition to any recommended medication.
Symptoms of Survivors’ Guilt
The severity of the symptoms that come with survivor’s guilt are wide and affect people to a greater or lesser extent and can manifest as both mental and physical signs, including:
Intrusive thoughts of the event or situation
Physical symptoms include:
Changes in eating habits
Survivors’ guilt can leave you with complex feelings about yourself and others. For example, you might obsess over the event, convincing yourself that you were to blame or that you should have been able to influence the outcome.
If you’ve survived a serious illness, you might feel like you weren’t worthy and that much better people than you who died should have lived.
Even if you’re usually a well-balanced person who can put things into perspective, survivor’s guilt can cause you to question everything about yourself and the world. You might even blame yourself for it happening, even if there was no way for you to have influenced or prevented events.
Who Can Develop Survivor’s Guilt?
Anyone can experience survivor’s guilt after an accident or illness. It depends on the circumstances and severity of the situation and your mental state. Researchers have linked the development of survivor’s guilt to a person’s ‘locus of control.’ This describes how much control over their lives people believe they have. If you don’t believe that things are ‘just meant to be’ or beyond your control, you might find it easier to accept the situation.
If you believe that all circumstances and situations can be anticipated and controlled, then you might be more inclined to blame yourself.
Other indicators could include:
Previous history of trauma or experience or a similar situation (with or without PTSD)
Poor self-image and low self-esteem
Existing mental health conditions such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder
Poor access to mental health support
Lack of social network and support
Treatment for Survivors’ Guilt
Those experiencing this condition can have serious mental health issues, affecting all aspects of their lives. It is often also accompanied by PTSD and other parts of psychological and physical trauma.
Any treatment plan must consider all of these factors to be effective. A mental health professional can use a range of treatments, including:
Individual or group therapy sessions include other people who have survived similar situations.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be used to identify negative thought patterns and learn to replace them with others to change thought patterns and assess the situation realistically.
In some situations, your doctor might feel you would benefit from taking certain medications such as anti-depressants or sleep aids to help with insomnia. This can be done alongside other types of treatment and therapy, and it may take a combination of treatments to help put you on the track to recovery.
Surviving an accident, illness, or traumatic event is liable to make anyone feel guilt or ‘why me?’ thoughts. For many people, these thoughts eventually go away or are manageable, but for some, they can affect the quality of life and leave a lasting mark on your mental health and well-being, which is why it’s essential to seek help as soon as you can.
Covid-19 has stolen so much from so many people and left people with a desire to start a new life. It’s not enough that life poses challenges, many unexpected, then additionally having to deal with the stresses, changes, and losses that Covid brought to many lives. It’s grief on top of grief on top of more grief. The weight of all of this change and loss can feel overwhelming, even for the rich, poor, famous, and person next door – grief doesn’t discriminate. If Covid-19 has brought any light to the world, it’s shown us where the systems in place for mental health are broken and where improvements need to be made. It’s changed how we live and work in the world, and the only way is up from here. It has to be the only way. Anything but is settling for how things are and that’s does nothing to help us collectively recover from the mess it’s left in its wake.
Mental health is a tricky subject to talk about for most people, and it’s hard to admit when you are struggling. A lot of people would rather give their left kidney than explain to someone that they feel as though they are sitting in a dark hole, all alone, and don’t know what to do. I especially felt this way when I was experiencing post-partum depression. Meanwhile, other people aren’t as severe as this, but still not in the best life possible. I’m going to be looking at some of the things that you can do to leave this feeling behind and create a new life (and the perception of it) for yourself. I’m going to share three steps that can help you begin the journey to a new life – alongside the grief. That is if you’re ready to do some inner-work and look at life (and grief) differently.
First, you need to understand that you have the ability to change. You need to be able to see that there is an issue that needs to be addressed rather than avoiding or burying it. Most importantly though, you have to want to change, to be better, and move towards the new life that you have been thinking and dreaming about. If you are more attached to the pain out of fear of change, that’s understandable. People would rather be comfortable than venture into the unknown and uncomfortable. I recall many years where I was adamant I was “fine.” We learn how to put on a show and wear a mask of illusion when we’re out with others. Inside, however, it’s a different story.
Becoming aware that you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, overwhelmed by fear and worry about the physical symptoms in your body that were manifesting is one way people become aware. This was my experience. I never fully dealt with the grief in my life and, after having children and in my 30’s, experiencing post-partum and other life challenges, I found myself experiencing another loss. By that time, I had done a lot of personal development work; even felt “fine” for several years. But, I was far from “fine.” We all have our own “rock bottom.” Even when I was abusing alcohol, nearly got fired from my job, and had my driver’s license suspended, I hadn’t met my “rock bottom.” When I say “rock bottom,” I mean in the sense of grief. Because grief, as I would later learn, is the catalyst for most of the problems in our lives – even the cyclical, repetitious situations we find ourselves in (the toxic relationship, addictions, financial gains, and losses, career change after career change). Grief, as you may have already learned through my work and the content I share, is both the thief of joy and the bearer of many gifts. However, we never see the difference between the two if we refuse to look at it.
Moving beyond the feelings of having no choice and recognizing the lessons grief holds, is what the step of awareness is all about.
Seeking the Right Help – for You
Society has been taught that it’s shameful to seek help – to need help. You may have grown up in a home where you didn’t talk to other people about your problems or issues in the family. Or, you may have never had a safe person in your immediate family growing up who you could go to. Any and all painful emotions were then likely stuffed down or were expressed in unhealthy ways. If you’re reading this, perhaps you have a child that’s struggling. Do you believe you are a safe person your child can go to where they won’t be criticized, analyzed, or judged? If you didn’t have that emulated for you growing up, there’s a good chance you may not know how to be a safe person for others because you never learned how to be. Are some people naturally better listeners and communicators? To a certain degree, yes. But when it comes to grief, we don’t know what we don’t know. We can easily say something that is hurtful or harmful without realizing it or without intending to do so.
So, in seeking help – follow your gut instincts. If you aren’t drawn to a certain mental health professional, friend, or family member, there’s a reason. Not everyone will be able to hold your grief with you, and this is especially so if they haven’t addressed their own. We can only help others to the capacity at which we’ve addressed our own grief.
How do you know if you’ve found the right person to help you? You’ll know when you have – it’s a feeling. Follow the cues of how you feel after you speak with that person initially. Does your body language close up and drawn inward? Do you find yourself not wanting to reveal much at all about yourself? On the flip side, do your shoulders relax, your speech slow, and a sense of calm and hope come over you? The body is always giving us cues and, it’s no different when we’re in the presence of or connecting one-on-one with another person.
Hold on to hope that there is always help available. There are many more resources today than there ever has been; likely some services you’ve never even heard of, too. I am aware there are waiting lists and cost is also a factor for many, too. I personally struggle with this because, although I know the value of Grief Recovery and believe every single person should have access to it, However, I am not in the position at this point in my life where I can give it (and my time) away either. Not only that, I do know that if a griever doesn’t have any “skin in the game,” meaning, they don’t have anything to lose (monetarily), that they are more likely to drop out of the program completely or not put 100% effort into it. I have personally witnessed this – both during my training and otherwise. This avoidance to do the work (with little to no financial attachment) is especially true when the inner-work gets hard – and it does get hard. As hard as it is for me to not give it away or for next to nothing, I know, without a doubt in my mind, I would be doing a griever a great disservice. That being said, I’m not opposed to bartering. If you are interested in Grief Recovery and have a skill or service I would find beneficial to me, please reach out. This may also be true for other mental health service providers, too. Get a little creative with how you can receive what you need while also giving your gifts and talents, too.
Bartering aside, there may also be grant or scholarship programs for which you can apply at certain agencies/businesses. I’m looking into how to implement this for my own business.
Once you find the right help for you, it might be the case that your needs entail medication, it may be heading to rehab for a little while, or include therapy sessions. Help could include all three, but that doesn’t matter as long as you are trying and working toward the new life you envision for yourself. No matter what, listen to your gut instincts when it comes to your mental health.
A Plan To Stay Healthy
The final thing that you are going to need is a plan to stay healthy in the long term. A lot of people find that having a routine helps them manage their life, keep out of overly stressful situations as much as possible, surround themselves with kind and loving people, as well as so much more. Be honest about what you have been through, and tell yourself you won’t be going back there as this will encourage you to stay on track as much as possible.
I personally have learned the importance of doubling down on self-care when life around you is in chaos as of recently. I denied myself self-care, completely stopped meditating after 93 days straight, and completely disregarded my mental, emotional, and physical health. As a result, I ended up getting Covid-19 within two weeks of stopping all of the things that grounded, centered and brought me a sense of peace and security. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. When the chaos ensued with all of the unknowns and uncertainty, the one area of my life where I could have created certainty and security, I didn’t devise a plan to maintain it.
I recently read this quote by James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, and shared by my mentor, Kristin Sherry, which is short but profound…
We don’t rise to our goals, we fall to the level of our systems. – James Clear, Atomic Habits
As an entrepreneur or as a mom that wears many hats while raising a family, I have systems in place that help my home and business run smoothly. However, we fail to recognize the importance of systems, as James Clear suggests, for personal well-being. Think about how you can create systems for success in staying healthy. Maybe, if you are wanting to exercise, you place your workout clothes right beside your bed, have your water bottle already ready to go for the next morning, and your workout planned out so you know what you’re doing before you head to sleep the night before. These are the very steps I take to set myself up for success, by having a system that helps me make better choices. I also don’t start, first thing, with exercise. Instead, I start with 20+ minutes of meditation. This is what I was doing before my self-care went out the window and, what I’ve since learned is that, no matter what, I can’t let go of and especially when life gets challenging. Because, when your cup is empty, it’s empty. You won’t have the motivation or the energy, even if you wanted to, to tackle physical demands, much less emotional ones. Create a plan, have a system in place, and stick to it as if your life depends on it because, in truth, it just might.
I hope that you have found this article helpful, and now see some of the things that you are going to need to do to move forward, towards a new life for yourself. It’s important that you understand the cost of not doing anything to move forward into a life you desire. Mental health is hard, but you don’t have to stay in the dark hole forever, there is a path into the light. Follow where your curiosity and intuition lead you, and when you’re ready to take your life by the horns and create lasting change, reach out to me or someone, but don’t suffer in silence.
As I’ve previously shared on my podcast, Grieving Voices, you’re already suffering; you may as well suffer while moving your feet. You have so much more to lose settling for a life not lived unleashed of suffering.
Grief comes in many forms, and it can manifest itself in different ways for each person. There is no right or wrong way to deal with grief. However, there are unhealthy ways in which we cope. If you are struggling with grief, it is critical to seek help from a professional therapist, counselor, or someone in-between like me (an Advanced Certified Grief Recovery Specialist).
Self-harm is a form of self-abuse that involves inflicting physical harm on oneself. People who engage in self-harm often cope with intense emotions, such as anger, sadness, or pain. Self-harming behaviors can include cutting, burning, or hitting oneself.
Self-harm is extremely dangerous and can lead to further physical and emotional damage. If you are self-harming, it is vital to get help from a professional therapist right away. Delay in seeking support will only exasperate the situation.
Alcohol Or Drug Abuse
Alcohol and drug abuse are common ways many people cope with difficult emotions. People who abuse drugs or alcohol often do so in an attempt to numb their feelings or escape from reality. However, as we all know, substance abuse disorders do nothing to address the emotional pain – it only adds to it.
If you are struggling with substance abuse, consider checking into an alcohol rehab or drug rehab. There is help available, and you don’t have to struggle alone. If you’re struggling with alcohol abuse but you’re not in the position to seek therapy, there are alternatives for support such as Club Soda as well as Alcoholics Anonymous®.
Eating disorders are another way people may try to cope with grief. Those suffering from eating disorders use food to control their emotions or punish themselves. Unfortunately, eating disorders are harmful to physical and emotional health. Every year, 10,200 deaths are the direct result of an eating disorder—that’s one death every 52 minutes, according to ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders).
If you think you may have an eating disorder, it is vital to get help from a professional therapist. There is no shame in seeking help. It is possible to get back to a healthy body image and live a fulfilling life.
Gambling is another means of unhealthy coping with grief. People who gamble often do so in an attempt to escape from reality or make themselves feel better. However, gambling can be addictive and lead to financial ruin, not to mention the loss of relationships and self-dignity.
If you are struggling with a gambling addiction, it is crucial to get help before the walls feel like they’re caving in on you. There are many resources available, including Gamblers Anonymous. Ask yourself these twenty questions, and then take action today to take your power back in your life.
Violent behavior is another way grief manifests and is used to cope and express what the griever doesn’t have the words to share. Also, many children who grow up in violent homes learn to be in fight or flight mode. If this continues for years on end, and a child isn’t able to express that anger, it will often express itself as the child grows older. Violent people often do so in an attempt to take control of their lives or express their anger. Violence only adds to the shame of the griever and imparts grief onto others.
If you feel angry and out of control, it is essential to seek help from a professional. There is no shame in asking for help, and you can get your life back on track. Addressing the grief is an excellent start to get to what is at the heart of the issue.
Excessive Spending or Shopping
Excessive spending or shopping is another way to try to cope with grief. Compulsive spenders do so to fill a void or make themselves feel better. However, excessive spending can lead to financial issues, similar to gambling. However, since this behavior doesn’t involve casinos, betting, or the like, the person excessively spending may not view the behavior as a problem. But, like gambling, it leads to secrets, shame, potential financial troubles, and of course, grief.
If you are struggling with compulsive spending, a significant first step is a financial counselor or advisor who can help you set goals and help hold you accountable. Many resources are available to help you get your finances back on track.
Withdrawal And Isolation
When the grief becomes overwhelming, or a person feels misunderstood, unheard, and alone, the response to that grief is often to withdraw or isolate. The amount of support someone has, their environment, life experience, and upbringing often influences whether a griever resorts to withdrawal and isolation. There are so many factors that play into withdrawal and isolation, but a strong emotion often present is hopelessness or despair. And, when someone feels hopeless, and any support that person had has faded, then what’s left but withdrawal? Or when someone feels hopeless, and they feel like a burden or, on the other side of the coin, get told unhelpful or hurtful things, then what’s left but to isolate?
All of these behaviors and manifestations of grief lead to a downward shame spiral and compounded grief. All of this grief accumulates in our emotional and physical bodies, and it eventually finds its way out.
I can speak for myself in how my grief and traumatic experiences perpetuated behaviors that caused more emotional suffering. When left unaddressed, grief becomes a vicious cycle. And it also feels like a rollercoaster too. You may have an experience when you are 25; you believe you deal with it when really, all you did was bury it. Ten years later, you have another experience that brings up all of those old, familiar feelings of the first experience, and you find yourself back at square one. Only this time, it feels heavier. With every loss, it feels like another suitcase you’re dragging around. Every loss experience compounds, one on top of the other until you can’t bear the weight anymore. You can’t carry it any further. And, you feel stuck, hopeless, insecure, and lost in your own body.
Does this sound familiar? I’ve been when you are. My vice was alcohol, which led to situations that took years to surface.
What has helped me? Being open to receiving help, looking for something that resonated with me, and then committing to it 100%. Whatever that thing turns out to be for you – I hope you start today in looking for it. You may be one Google (or better yet, DuckDuckGo) search away from a new tomorrow and a version of you that you thought was never possible.
If this resonated with you and you need support, I’m an email away. Contact me – help is available. And, did you know your healthcare HSA may cover Grief Recovery?
I initially had this post titled: “Is Healing Possible?” But, that felt too predictable given my occupation as a Grief Recovery Method Specialist®. So, I wanted the title to feel more poignant of what we often feel in our grief – miserable. I thought I was destined to feel miserable for the rest of my life. I lacked direction, abused alcohol, lacked emotional control and tact, felt like I was on a rollercoaster ride I couldn’t get off of, and it took every ounce of my energy to focus and concentrate. I was also a “rage-y” mom, unfortunately for my kids.
Do you feel as though you are destined for misery? This post is for you. 💛
I recently read a LinkedIn post that prompted me to share my two cents, which has also inspired this week’s blog post.
This is the beautiful thing about perspective; we all have a point-of-view we bring to the table, and it’s formed through experience. And because all of us uniquely experience life, every perspective contributes to every conversation, even conversations about grief.
The post’s author talked about how, as someone who counsels the bereaved, she has stopped using words and phrases like heal, recover, move on, move forward, or thrive.
I did agree with a lot of what she wrote. However, a bigger part of me feels like it’s important for all grievers to feel like there’s hope. If you don’t have hope, what do you have to hold onto that gets you up and moving the next day?
The opposite of hope is hopelessness and, that’s a slippery slope that I personally know, too. When dark thoughts start to enter the mind, it becomes harder to crawl out of that dark hole.
Additionally, I believe by not using the language of possibility, then what language is left?
Is it important to sit in our feelings to process and work through them? Absolutely! Do I personally want to stay there? Absolutely not. Do I want the clients I work with to stay in that dark place either? No. Taking action moves people forward.
Moving forward is an action.
Thriving is an action.
Recovering is an action.
Healing is an action.
And, my friends, there is hope when you’re taking action.
So, you will always see me use these words because they’re important in the language of grief that grievers see that there’s a path forward. There is a way out of the misery, pain, and emotional and physical dis-ease grief causes.
How Do You Want To Feel?
Is grief normal and natural? Yes. Everything about it is normal and natural.
Do you want the experiences that grief often brings to be your “new normal,” or do you want to feel empowered and stand emotionally confident in your grief experience?
The shortest line in the Bible is two words: Jesus wept. It’s normal and natural to weep. But, do you want to be a sea of tears on the floor because you’re holding on to the pain of what you cannot change?
There is no timeline to grief. It’s one of the myths of grief, actually. So yes, be a pile of tears on the floor; however, ask yourself if that’s where you want to stay for the rest of your life, and you’d say “No!” When the time is right for you to pick yourself up off the floor, you will. But, the pain will remain unless you do the deep work to address it.
The quickest way to get out of our own heads is to serve others. That’s an action, too. Healing is a by-product of being of service to others. Moving forward and thriving are, too.
These are a few ways that come to mind to frame these words to mean something more than what a griever should aspire to do.
I write it that way: ...what a griever should aspire to do...because the only real “supposed to” in grief is to take care of oneself, whatever that looks like for the individual.
Ask any grieve how they want to feel, and not a single one will go on and on about…
How much joy their emotional pain brings them.
How they can’t get enough of their pain and can’t wait to see how non-amazing they feel the next day, even though they may care less if they wake up to greet the sun.
We Are All Grievers
People don’t find pleasure in grief. And, if you deny that you’re a griever, think again! I don’t know a single human who doesn’t grieve something – who doesn’t have particular emotional responses to something someone did, said, or something that happened yesterday, 5 years ago, 30 years ago, or a situation that’s been negatively impacting them.
If you’ve moved, changed careers, never had a dream come true, missed an opportunity, didn’t take a chance, experienced divorce, death of a loved one, a decline in health, have chronic pain, pet loss, Covid, child loss, miscarriage – oh my gosh, do I need to go on?
WE ALL GRIEVE SOMETHING OR SOMEONE. YOU ARE A GRIEVER.
And, there’s no such thing as a half-griever; we all grieve at 100%.
Now that I’ve driven that point home and clarified who is a griever, do you see how language matters?
If I told you that you would forever feel the pain you do today about your deceased loved one as you did yesterday and the year before, I would be the last person you’d want to work with, right?
But what if I spoke to what’s possible for your life, potential, and your emotional state and mindset regardless of what happened to you? You would probably be skeptical, but it sure gives you more hope doesn’t it?
When you don’t know something exists that can transform the lives of grievers in seven or eight weeks, you don’t know that it’s honestly possible. If you don’t know about an evidence-based program that walks a griever, regardless of their loss, through a structured and supported process that guides them through their own healing experience, you don’t know it’s possible to heal, recover, move on, move forward, and thrive. And, that is exactly what I felt well up in me and needed to be shared as I read that LinkedIn post.
As you read this today, I guarantee you that your unprocessed emotions are hindering you somehow. If you would be completely honest with yourself for just a moment, ask yourself this: What am I trying to forget? The answer to that question holds a clue to what is emotionally stagnant in your heart. And, I promise you, you are bringing that emotional energy to everything you do and every interaction you have. And the more experiences you’re trying to forget, the greater the impact it’s having on you because grief is cumulative and it’s cumulatively negative. If that question doesn’t resonate, try this one on: What am I struggling with?
So, my friend…There is hope if you are ready to heal, recover, move on, move forward, and thrive. Entertain the possibility that it’s possible. Read the stories of thousands upon thousands who have gone through The Grief Recovery Method, the only evidence-based program of its kind. It is also the only grief support program to receive such a distinction. It wouldn’t have made it over 40 years if it didn’t work.
The Grief Recovery Method changed my life. And, without a doubt in my mind, I know it can change yours by allowing you to live in the present moment, start a new relationship with someone you’re grieving or who was less than loving, or heal a traumatic experience. I have applied this method to many areas of my life. It has helped me address my relationship with money, alcohol, inner-child, and countless relationships in my life with those living and deceased. It had helped me heal trauma from sexual abuse as a child, the death of my father when I was a child, and do the inner-work to have positive relationships with otherwise challenging people in my life.
Never let anyone tell you something is impossible, including healing, recovery, moving on, moving forward, or thriving. 💛
Are you ready to go from surviving your grief to thriving alongside your grief? The difference is, the sadness is love with nowhere to go. Emotional pain is poison you take, all the while, wishing something would change. And, my friend, you do have the power to change your life experience. All it takes is an open and willing heart.
If your heart is open and willing, I am here for you and invite you to contact me. 💛
I bet you clicked on the link to read this blog post because you’re in a relationship with someone that’s causing you grief.
And, there’s a 50/50 chance that the person you’re thinking of, in terms of relationship grief, is still alive, too.
Relationship grief extends much farther than the normal and natural feelings you feel when someone dies.
We typically think of relationships as a partnership or being in communion and connection with another human. However, I want to take this opportunity to share with you all of the ways we are in relationships and examples of how we experience relationship grief. My goal is for you to walk away from reading this blog post with an expanded understanding that you can then apply to your life with a new perspective.
Types of Relationships
Other Humans: Spouse/Significant Other, Parent, Child, Sister/Brother, Grandparent, Aunt/Uncle, Godparent, Cousin, Niece/Nephew, Friend, Neighbor, Co-Worker/Supervisor/Boss, Clients/Customers, and all of the service-based industries that make up our daily lives – Hairdresser, Postmaster, Bank Teller, Cashier, Massage Therapist, Healthcare Provider, Teacher/Instructor/Coach, Podcast Host/Audience, Authors of Favorite Books, Taxi/Uber/Lyft Driver, Food Delivery, Police/Fire/Rescue, Veterinarian
Animals: Pets, Service Animal, Pets of family/friends/neighbors, Strays, Animals that make your Livelihood or are providers (livestock/chickens (eggs/food) /horses (rodeo/competition/service animal), Eco-System
Nature: Garden, Yard, Farm, Eco-System, Forest, Lake/Ocean/Sea, Air
Read the relationship types a couple of times. It’s easy to understand why life feels as complex as it does. We co-exist, interact, and are participants of all kinds of relationships daily.
Do you see how many or all of these connections have the potential to cause us grief?
If our relationship in one area lacks in another, we may gravitate to other types of relationships in co-dependent, unhealthy ways. For instance, if there are conflicts with a child or parent, one may self-sabotage the relationship to self by turning to food/alcohol for comfort. Another example may be if you lose a home due to a natural disaster. The impact of that will change where you live, the community and neighbors you are forced to acclimate to, and the situation could add strain to a partnership with another if job loss is involved or just by the stress of having to start over. Just because you have to move doesn’t mean your relationship with where you were before the natural disaster goes away; those feelings still exist. Likewise, when someone dies, the relationship continues. The feelings of anything you wish would have been different, better, or more don’t go away on their own. The loss of hopes, dreams and expectations you had for the relationship continues in your heart; therefore, the relationship also continues.
Grief recovery, a program to address the loss of any kind, helps address those feelings that you can’t seem to shake that keep you stuck.
Grief impacts every area of our lives. Because we are so connected to our environments and each other, and we take ourselves everywhere we go, it behooves us to create balance in our lives to feel contentment and inner peace. Otherwise, we go about our lives not feeling very empowered. Instead, we feel at the mercy of our circumstances, immersed in chaos, and often what follows is our physical bodies begin to break down.
As you see, relationship grief is multi-faceted and hardly straightforward. And the very nature of grief is not linear either. Rather, it feels like a rollercoaster ride where your emotions are all over the place. Only, in grief, you’re without the safety and security of believing that the ride will end smoothly. As I mentioned previously, what adds to the complexity of grief and relationships is that we all bring our “stuff” into our relationships.
Wouldn’t it feel better to be proactive rather than reactive in our lives?Wouldn’t it feel better to be in tune with your heart and have your actions align with your feelings that lean to the goodness life has to offer? Because grief makes us feel like we don’t have a choice, and we all bring our “stuff,” you can see, too, how all of these other relationships potentially add more grief to our lives.
Let me explain it this way…
If you are in the depths of grief right now and feel as though you are a victim of your circumstances and want to feel better but don’t know how to do that or lack the support, you will turn to something (or someone) that will make you feel better. But, those feeling better feelings are short-lived. All the while, in the depths of your grief, you’re having all of these other interactions and encounters with the other kinds of relationships. That is unless you’ve drawn the curtains and are lying in the fetal position for days or weeks on end. Keep in mind, you’re always in a relationship with yourself, though. You take you everywhere – even when it’s just you in the fetal position.
In all of these types of relationships, the one that matters most is our relationship with ourselves. And, it’s the only relationship we have authority over, too.
There are one hundred and forty days left in 2021. How do you want to refine the relationship you have with yourself before 2022?
Are there other relationships that could use some emotional de-cluttering? If so, reach out to me at [email protected] [dot] com if you’re interested in participating in the Grief Recovery Online Group Program. It’s limited to 6 participants this go-around. We meet once weekly for eight weeks in the evenings (typically Wednesdays or Thursdays) for about two hours, starting in September.
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